The Big Boy Bed Adventures: Night 1

Thursday, March 28, 2013
In case you guys didn't know, we are avid co-sleepers, bed sharers, family bed style people.
We did not start off this way.

I grew up in a family bed. My mom had a crib for me and my little sister, but neither of us ever slept in it. Maybe she (my sister) did a time or two for a nap, but not so much. As we got bigger we also got our own beds in our own room (we shared a room in those early years) and we were free to travel between them. We were still living in that house when I started Kindergarden, but I couldn't for the life of me tell you where I slept most nights. I remember braiding my own very long hair in my bedroom, and playing in my bedroom. I remember my mom snuggling my little sister on our couch taking a nap while I camped out behind the crooks of her knees and watched TV, or dozed leaned on her butt. Or my sister sleeping near by, and not in Mom's arms, while Mom napped on the couch and I hung out in the space behind her knees warm and cozy. My mom worked nights while my dad worked days so they didn't have to try and afford a sitter too very often, so Mom's day sleep was vital to her sanity I'm sure. She tells me I was always excellent as a small child and very helpful with my baby sister (we are two years apart, almost to the day). We have tons of pictures of us sleeping in Mom and Dad's bed when we were little. We moved the summer I turned 6, and when we moved we moved in to a much larger house. Both of my sisters (I have an older half sister who mostly spent the weekends with us) and I got our own rooms. I remember sleeping in my own bed, and sleeping in the family bed. Especially if we were sick, but even if we were just lonely, or hadn't cleaned off our beds to be able to sleep on them - we were welcomed into the family bed. Even now, as an adult, one of the most comforting places I can find in our house is my mother's bed. She doesn't have to be in it of course, but her sheets are always warmer and her pillows are always softer. I haven't slept in my mother's bed in many many years - after all I am 26 years old and married - but that place of safety and comfort is engrained deeply in me. It doesn't matter that her bed is actually a couch now (it is more comfortable and convenient for her) or that we have moved several times and her bedroom isn't what I remember. The atmosphere in general is completely different. However, on those really tough days - those high stress days - I know what my mother is going to recommend to me. Hugs, a shoulder to cry on, and relaxing in her bed while I regroup. Oh man, does it work Every. Single. Time. The perks of co-inhabiting with your mother ;-) (PS writing that and reading it back to myself totally makes me cry. Stupid hormones...)

Slightly off topic but not really. My bad on that. Anyhow - so I obviously grew up with co-sleeping. That was the point, to stress that it is very normal to me.

When Toad and I found out we were pregnant with Turtle-Love, our first, we of course talked about a thousand or so parenting decisions that had to be made. One that we had decided on quickly was that co-sleeping was not for us. The bed sharing variety anyhow. Before we moved we had set up Turtle-Love's room with his crib and furniture, etc. and a day bed that I would sleep on for at least the first few weeks in his room. (Which, by the way, is a form of co-sleeping). We thought that this way I could get up with the baby, and Toad could still sleep so he could be functional for work. No point in having two sleep deprived parents. My mother tried to convince us we shouldn't spend the money on a crib - but we were very firm in our decision that we would not bed share. We did not want our child in the bed with us. Ohhhhh how things change. Turtle-Love was born early. You all probably know that story by now. He spent his first two weeks sleeping alone in a bassinet in the NICU. Our first night sleeping together, in a family suite in the NICU, he slept alone in his bassinet next to my side of the bed. To my surprise I actually did wake up to every single sound he made, even though I doubted my ability to hear him in my sleep. (After all, I perfected the art of missing my alarm clock over the years) So when we brought him home we planned to put him to sleep in his crib, alone. We had moved though, and his crib was actually in our bedroom. We got home and he just seemed so tiny in his very large crib, I couldn't leave him there. I was really happy a friend had given us a bassinet. I pulled it up close to our bed, and put him to sleep in it. Over the next few nights...

Scratch that just remembered I already wrote this part of the story! Two years ago! You can read it here: We bedshare - do you?

Anyhow... we tried a couple times and a couple different things in that first year of life to transition Turtle-Love into his own sleeping space, but nothing worked. Part of that was probably that we just weren't that committed to it. I didn't mind bedsharing after all, and it meant we actually got sleep. I've come to very much enjoy bedsharing with our son. I love the cuddles, and the snuggles, and having him lay next to me at night while I sing him the moon song, or we read books to the moon. (Our bed is under a sky light). However, in the past month I've woken up numerous times to my husband sleeping on the couch because Turtle-Love kicked him out of the bed. Toad doesn't mind, sometimes he sleeps better on the couch that he can spread out in compared to the measly edge of bed he grips each night with us. A few nights I actually woke up to Turtle-Love whining, and then pushing on Toad with his feet telling him to move, to get out of the bed. While it is actually really funny to witness that and have Toad listen, it was a big sign to us that Turtle-Love is looking for more space. I can't blame him. Our set up is pretty crowded right now. Toad, then Turtle-Love, then me and my pregnant belly, then my pregnancy body pillow. We planned to side car the crib to make more space when Little Bean arrives. With this new realization from Turtle-Love however, we needed to make new plans. Recently, our family also experienced a tragedy that has shaken us to the core, and it has helped us to open our eyes up to things that we have become a bit laxed in - areas we need improvement as all people do over time. So between this and Turtle-Love's obvious need for more space, we decided to put the crib up, converted as a toddler day bed.

We put Turtle-Love's big boy bed off my side of our bed, against the wall. There is maybe 1.5 - 2 feet of space between the edge of his bed and the edge of our bed. We put his bed together Tuesday night, but with having an early morning appointment the next day we didn't want to risk not sleeping and decided to try out the big boy bed for the first time at night last night - mainly because Toad is off today and could be up with him if need be. Turtle-Love has slept on his mattress in the floor for naps a handful of times, but never as a bed off the ground, and never at night. Turtle-Love, and Toad, fell asleep together while cuddling on the couch last night. He hadn't been asleep long when I decided to risk picking him up and moving him to his bed. Turtle-Love, not Toad ;-) On the way to the bedroom he barely woke up, just long enough for me to steal a kiss and he promptly laid down on my shoulder. The transition to his bed went smoothly too and he snuggled right in. I had made his bed up the same way I make ours so the weight would feel familiar - fitted sheet, flat sheet, blanket, comforter, pillow case on his pillow (which is actually super flat and used to be mine, I got it at a birthday party when I was 5). I had Toad move to the bed too, and then I got in bed myself. I decided to leave our light on, but dimmed down. Just in case Turtle-Love woke up so he could see us. I also moved his bean bag chair in front of his bed in case he rolled. I didn't think he would, but didn't want him to just crash to the ground either if he did.

I then laid down in bed myself, facing Turtle-Love and snuggling my body pillow. I got really sad and a little anxious. What if something happened? He seemed so far away. There were no little toes in the backs of my knees. No little fingers on my back. No little wisps of hair tickling me. No leg thrown over my side. No tiny hot breaths on my skin. I tried distracting myself on my phone, which didn't work. I ended up just laying there, watching Turtle-Love sleep for what felt like a really long time before I finally drifted off with tears threatening my eyes the whole time. My baby boy is getting so big!

I woke up in the middle of the night - as most pregnant women do - and Turtle-Love had barely moved. His covers were undisturbed, he had only turned his head the other direction and I could now see his little face. I drifted between awake and asleep from then til it was time to get ready for work. I waited as long as I could, laying in bed, just in case he woke up. I really wanted to be there if he did, but he didn't and I had to leave.

I got a Tango (its a video chat program for smart phones - free!) from Toad a little while ago. Turtle-Love was all smiles and happy voice and in the best mood. He had just woken up about ten minutes before they called. Toad report Turtle-Love walked into the living room looking for him, and when he called out "Daddy?" Toad answered - from the bed - and he quickly climbed in with him, but carrying their matching baseball caps. All smiles. All happy boy.

My baby boy is so big!
Did I mention he didn't even nurse last night? 
No one warns you the hard part of this transition is your own emotions when your baby is ready!

This was just the first night. It went great but I know the following nights might not. It just seems like Turtle-Love is so happy today already. My little guy who isn't so much a morning person lately. My mom even called to tell me how chipper and non-whiney Turtle-Love is this morning for breakfast. ♥

 Toad and Turtle-Love immediately after falling asleep on the couch :: Turtle-Love immediately after being moved to his big boy bed (note the bean bag chair lol) :: Turtle-Love this morning, from where I lay to sleep the last moment before I had to get up for work

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